Women have gained access to careers beyond the traditional homemaker, and the ability to pursue higher education. Statistically, there are more females in Ghana than males and the Ghana Statistical Service gives the ratio of men to women as one is to four, meaning that among every five Ghanaians, there are four females and one male.
Therefore, one wonders, why female participation in the political process is still below par. Currently in Ghana, out of the 275 parliamentary seats, only 34 are occupied by women. Again there are only 13 substantive female Ministers and 10 female Deputy Ministers in Government, out of the 123 ministers in Ghana.
This notwithstanding, women in Ghana have been at the forefront of politics for several years. We recount the contributions of Agnes Oforiwa Tagoe-Quarcoopome and the market women of Makola to the CPP that enabled it to lead Ghana to political freedom in 1957. We can also mention the likes of Theodosia Okoh who designed the Ghana National Flag. And there are many more females whose names have not been recognised because they may not have held any public office.
Fortunately, from the presidential seat to members of parliament, Ghana has seen a surge in women’s participation in elections. In the 2016 election, former first lady Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings became the first Ghanaian woman to have run for the presidency as a flag bearer. Even though she didn’t attract the needed votes to make a bolder political statement for women, she took a step that most people have come to admire and respect.
As another political period is rife in Ghana, it is delighting to know and right to recognise the women who are still playing key invaluable roles in the political process. It is so apparent that women are still forerunners in the upcoming election and in some cases are being used as the determinant of some candidates’ potentials of winning.
After the recent appointment of former Education Minister, Hon. Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang as the first female running mate for a major political party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), in Ghana, the conversation about the role of women have been at the tip of every commentators’ mouth. Many are hoping that she can be celebrated as the first female vice president after 7th December 2020.
In this article, my interest is in sharing the stories of women who have made a bold step by being actively involved in the upcoming election, on the campaign trail as parliament aspirants, presidential & running mate aspirants and who occupy important positions such as women organisers. In other words, they are the women I am betting my small coins on to make history for women in the upcoming elections.
As we hope for a bigger representation of women in governance in Ghana and across Africa, I wish these women the very best and present them as my bets to make the feminine caucus proud in the 2020 general election in Ghana.
1. Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang, Running Mate, NDC
As the first woman to ever receive an appointment to become the running mate to a major political party in Ghana, Hon. Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang adds a lot of value to the upcoming election. Her position offers Ghanaian feminists the opportunity to make a reality what they have been advocating for in a long time -a seat at the table
If she wins, she will become the first female Vice President of Ghana. Her records as the first female Vice-chancellor of a public university and former Minister of Education are key contributors to the discussion regarding her potentials to deliver a sterling leadership if her party wins the presidential elections.
2. Samira Bawumia, Second Lady
Her Excellency Samira Bawumia is the second lady of Ghana and wife to the vice president and running mate of the New Patriotic Party, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia.
She rose to political prominence during the 2016 general election when she took the initiative to be involved in campaign activities including mounting podiums to sell the policies of her party. Even though she is not a contestant she is noted as a key pillar in election matters in the party. With her influence on social media seen by numerous young ladies as a role model, she will be expected to be a major advocate for the NPP’s policies and campaign messages.
3. Akua Donkor – Presidential Candidate Aspirant
Akua Donkor is the founder and leader of Ghana Freedom Party (GFP) and the first woman to register a political party and attempt to run for president in Ghana. Even though she has been unsuccessful on two different occasions to have her face on the presidential ballot paper, she has already announced a running mate to assist her contest for the upcoming 2020 election.
As a farmer and one who has not gone through formal education, most people doubt her potentials of being elected President of the Republic of Ghana. But it is without a doubt that her intentions and campaign messages will create a lot of political discussions in the upcoming elections.
4. Dr Hannah Bissiw, National Women Organiser, NDC
Hon. Dr Hanna Louisa Bissiw is the current National Women Organiser of the opposition National Democratic Congress. As a former Member of Parliament and Deputy Minister, she has exhibited strong leadership to lead the women caucus of her party to occupy more seats in the next parliament. Through her advocacy, her party inaugurated the first-ever female running mate and with her experience in campaigning, she will be seen doing a lot of work to support all women during this period.
As the leader of the women’s wing, she is responsible for the success of all female candidates under the ticket of the NDC and she has shown tenacity in making sure most of her candidates will be sworn into office in January 2021.
5. Kate Gyamfua, National Women Organiser, NPP
With over 3 decades in politics, Kate Gyamfua is the National Women’s Organiser of the ruling New Patriotic Party. This position allows her to show leadership in making sure her party secures more seats for women in parliament and also wins the presidential election.
With her background in women advocacy, she is described as the mother for all and has shown stern leadership in leading the women’s wing of her party.
6. Abena Osei Asare – MP & Deputy Minister
Hon. Abena Osei Asare is the current Deputy Minister of Finance, Member of Parliament and NPP Parliamentary Candidate for the Atiwa East Constituency in the Eastern Region. She has served two terms already and is seeking another term. Before politics, she worked with the New York University and Barclays Bank in Ghana and was a successful banker and chartered accountant.
As a Member of Parliament, she has been touted with loads of achievements aside her role as a Deputy Finance Minister and member of the Finance Committee in Parliament. She has, through her office, improved health facilities for her constituents including the construction of a 20-unit maternity unit, doctors’ flat and donation of medical equipment. The youths in her constituency also praise her for also providing them with job opportunities in several areas.
7. Amanda Okyere Kwatia – MP Aspirant
At 27, Amanda Okyere-Kwatia has received the parliamentary candidature of the NDC in the Suhum Constituency and tasked to unseat the ruling MP, a very difficult task which has been unsuccessfully undertaken by previous MCEs and former Chief of Staff, Hon Julius Debrah.
Amanda is a graduate from the University of Cape Coast and an alumna of the International Visitors Leadership Program, a leadership and governance fellowship by the Government of the United States of America for emerging global leaders around the world. Her role as the Founder and President of the Amanda Foundation is also supporting evidence of why she is qualified to be elected to parliament.
8. Catherine Afeku, MP & Minister
Catherine Ablema Afeku is the former Minister of Tourism & Creative Arts, Minister of State, Member of Parliament and the NPP Parliamentary Candidate for the Evalue Gwira Constituency in the Western Region.
As an aspirant bidding for another term in office, she was endorsed during the recent primaries giving her a great chance to make another statement for women politicians in Ghana. Under her leadership, she has steered her constituency through projects such as the construction of the Axim Sea Defence Wall, a mini sports stadium at Axim, a DVLA Office, Cassava factory and roads across the constituency.
9. Comfort Doyoe Cudjoe-Ghansah, MP & Former Minister
Cudjoe-Ghansah is the Member of Parliament for Ada and a former Minister of State on Social and Allied Institutions. She is currently the Deputy Minority Chief Whip and is seeking another term on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress.
In 2016, she won her seat with an 80% endorsement from her constituents and through her position has led several campaigns including being an advocate for affordable sanitary pads for girls. Her constituency is also a growing tourism hub and her leadership will provide a lot of support for individuals hoping to invest in that sector in her constituency.
10. Cynthia Morrison, MP & Minister
Cynthia Mamle Morrison is the current Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Member of Parliament and NPP Parliamentary Candidate for the Agona West Constituency in the Central region.
As an ardent advocate for gender and social protection in Ghana, she has used her various offices to champion various cases which have gained the admiration of Ghanaians. She has also used her office to assist in developmental projects in her constituency including the construction of boreholes, donation of motorbikes and launching of ICT and entrepreneurship programs
11. Dzifa Gomashie, MP Aspirant & Former Deputy Minister
Dzifa Gomashie is a veteran actress, former Deputy Minister of Tourism and Queen Mother in the Aflao Traditional Council. She is the current Parliamentary Candidate for the opposition National Democratic Congress in the Ketu South Constituency.
With a task to deliver victory, her influence will play a lot in the national election as she gets to run for the NDC in their largest constituency across the country in regards to votes. If she wins, she becomes the first female MP of the largest constituency in Ghana.
12. Francisca Oteng-Mensah, MP & Board Chair of NYA.
Currently known as the youngest MP in Ghana, Hon. Francisca Oteng-Mensah is the Member of Parliament and the NPP Parliamentary Candidate for the Kwabre East Constituency, in the Ashanti Region. She is also the board chairperson of the National Youth Authority.
She has been previously voted as the best MP in the Ashanti Region and featured in Avance Media’s ranking of the 50 Most Influential Young Ghanaians ranking. As an MP, she has been able to deliver on some promises and was selected to run unopposed to return to parliament for a second term.
13. Hajia Alima Mahama, MP & Minister
Hajia Alima Mahama is a lawyer, Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Member of Parliament and NPP Parliamentary Candidate for the Nalerigu/Gambaga constituency in the Northern Region.
As a minister and MP, she has led several projects across the country and is known as the champion for rural development. Through her leadership, several rural communities have been connected to the national grid and she has supervised the establishment of two senior high schools in her constituency during her recent tenure.
14. Lydia Alhassan, MP
In 2019, she shocked the country by taking up the task to run for office after the loss of her husband, an election that she won by popular vote but which was marred by so many controversies including a commission of enquiry instituted by the president.
As the MP of one of the largest constituencies in Ghana, she also faces competition from actor John Dumelo. But leaning on her track record, she is resolved to return to parliament to continue the works and policies she has instituted in her short stay in office.
15. Rita Odoley Sowah, Former DCE & Aspiring MP
Rita Odoley Sowah is former District Chief Executive and current NDC Parliamentary Candidate for the La Dadekotopon Constituency in the Greater Accra Region.
She won the ticket with the record as a former DCE and has indicated that her mission to parliament is to improve the lives of individuals in her constituency. Tasked to reclaim the seat from the NPP who took over in 2016, she is convinced that the massive development she brought to the constituency will be a key determinant in the people’s decision on whom to vote for in the upcoming election.
16. Sarah Adwoa Safo, MP & Minister
Hon. Sarah Adwoa Safo is the Minister of State for Procurement, the Deputy Majority Leader, Member of Parliament and NPP Parliamentary Candidate for the Dome Kwabenya Constituency in the Greater Accra Region.
After retaining her position to lead the party in the upcoming general elections by 8 votes, she has a tough assignment to deliver another victory to the ruling party. In her constituency, she has also led various projects but she is faced with fierce competition from the opposition who are unsatisfied with her work since 2013.
17. Sheila Bartels, Aspiring MP
Sheila Bartels is an entrepreneur and NPP Parliamentary Candidate for the 2020 elections. She defeated the incumbent MP in the party primaries in the Ablekuma North Constituency.
In 2016, she led an independent campaign organisation called the HOPE Campaign, which helped to sell the ideology and messages of the NPP leading to their victory in the general elections.
18. Paulina Patience Abayage, Aspiring MP & Regional Minister
Hon. Paulina Patience Abayage is a former Ambassador to Italy, current Upper East Regional Minister and NPP Parliamentary Candidate for the Navrongo Central Constituency in the Upper East Region.
She took the position after defeating fellow Minister for Aviation, Joseph Kofi Adda. She also becomes the first female aspirant in the constituency and stands a tall chance of becoming the first female MP for Navrongo Central.
19. Tina Gifty Naa Ayele Mensah, MP & Deputy Minister
Hon. Tina Mensah is the current Deputy Minister for Health, Member of Parliament and the NPP Parliamentary Candidate for the Weija-Gbawe Constituency in the Greater Accra Region.
As one of the front runners in the COVID-19 pandemic, she has been supportive of the ministry in drafting programs to control the spread of the virus in Ghana. In her constituency, she has also led several projects which have brought development to her people.
20. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, MP & Minister
Hon. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful is a Queen Mother, the current Minister for Communications, Member of Parliament and the NPP Parliament Candidate for the Ablekuma West Constituency in the Greater Accra Region.
As the first-ever NPP MP of the constituency since 2012, she has been at the helm of affairs by creating several opportunities for women and her constituents. As a gender advocate, she has openly called for all political parties to allow women to run for various offices in the country.
21. Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, MP
Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings is the current Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Candidate for the NDC in the Korle Klottey Constituency in the Greater Accra Region.
Currently in her first term and seeking another opportunity to represent her constituents in parliament, she has been the star of young people who admire her because of her stern leadership. As a Medical Doctor, she has also led various medical activities and provided reliefs and support whenever there flooding in Accra.